on passion, evangelism and madness

riding to the getty

Yesterday I led another workshop about some of my favorite web-based research tools. My colleagues like to tease me about how zealous I am about such things--my enthusiasm causing me to talk very quickly, show too many glitzy features, and gush. I suspect that my evangelism is charming rather than off-putting (at least, I hope so). I try not to say that using Zotero or GoogleSuite will change the world as we know it, but sometimes I sort of think it will.

Of late, I've come to realize that I need to believe in what I'm doing to be enthusiastic about it. For example, my loss of faith the UC has made it increasingly hard to be tied to that ship, despite all the good that's come of my years at UCI. And while I've spearheaded some small efforts for change at UC, I no longer feel that our high-level administrators have the interests of the humanities at heart (departmental admins, OTOH, rock), so I'm looking forward to moving on. A similar thing happened with the LDS church. I was a super-champion of Mormonism until the foundation gave way (for me), and then it became impossible--even repulsive--to carry on with the organization. I'm not halfway person. Either I love it and believe in it, or I lose interest.

Having such passion serves me well in many circumstances. When I'm in the front of the classroom I am teaching, believing, and professing with everything I've got. Parenting absorbs me completely. My friends know of my wholehearted love affair with my two perfect children (and the amazing man that I made them with)--there is no ambivalence there. Whether I am gardening or traveling or swimming, it is done with body and soul. And there is a thrill with being able to live so fully, so committed. If I say or do something, it's because I believe in it.

Life itself seems lunatic. Who knows where madness lies? Perhaps being too practical is madness. To surrender to dreams, this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash is madder still. Too much sanity may be madness. But maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be."
(adapted from Dale Wasserman's screenplay, "The Man of La Mancha")

Photo above is of us riding the tram up to the Getty museum when GameBoy was about 6 and CatGirl was 3-ish years old. We love taking our kidlings to museums! I'd forgotten that John and I had matchy-matchy black Dickies messenger bags back then. So cute!


Erin G. said...

Love this.

Incidentally, I worked with Dale Wasserman on the premiere of a his musical play "Western Star" almost 20 years ago -- He was great to work with. Very decisive. No putzing around with a scene that wasn't working. He'd intuit an immediate tweak or he'd trash it and bring something new in the next day. It was a very exciting (sometimes demanding) rehearsal period.

Megan said...

I think that loss of belief in university is fairly wide-spread. I work at one AND go to graduate school and we have not only no support for the Humanities but little to no support for academics in general (but all kinds of money and good things for athletics and the non-academic soft money programs). It is frustrating and discouraging. I can only hope that things will improve with an upswing in the economy - although by then I might have sadly packed up my tent and gone...

(btw - thanks for the kind words for admins. Staff at academic institutions have a hard life!)